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Heatherdean, henge 30m SSE of, Lochside

A Scheduled Monument in Culloden and Ardersier, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.546 / 57°32'45"N

Longitude: -3.9858 / 3°59'8"W

OS Eastings: 281243

OS Northings: 852387

OS Grid: NH812523

Mapcode National: GBR J8JS.8YX

Mapcode Global: WH4G6.RL5K

Entry Name: Heatherdean, henge 30m SSE of, Lochside

Scheduled Date: 15 October 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6694

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: henge

Location: Petty

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Culloden and Ardersier

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a small henge, situated close to the edge of the field immediately across the road (SSE) of the house named Heatherdean, at Lochside by Loch Flemington.

Visible only as a cropmark on an aerial photograph (RCAHMS 1976 IN/2654), the henge is sub-circular on plan. It measures approximately 20 m from E to W and 22 m from NE to SW. Opposing entrances in the NE and SW quadrants, each about 2 m wide, interrupt the surrounding ditch, which is about 2 m wide. There is no visible evidence for the upcast bank that would have surrounded the henge ditches. A road has destroyed the NW arc of the ditch. Cropmarks suggest that the ditch was cut in straight sections with angular joins, and that pits exist in the interior. This monument may be the 'Flemish Camp' referred to in the New Statistical Account (1845), the Name Book (1870), and noted on the Ordnance Survey (OS) Second Edition map (1906).

The area to be scheduled is a clipped circle on plan, centred on the henge (NH 8124 5239) and extending outwards up to the surrounding fencelines, to include the henge and an area around within which evidence of the upcast bank and associated remains may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. Excluded from the scheduled area are all above-ground elements of fences, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's archaeological significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: Despite no upstanding evidence of the henge remaining, the clarity of the cropmark visible on the aerial photograph strongly suggests the presence of two opposing entrances, making this site a so-called Class II henge dating back approximately 5000 years to the late Neolithic period. Evidence from comparable sites shows that archaeological features and deposits are likely to be found within the henge and inside the ditch and pits, as well as within the remnants of the upcast bank. These features and deposits have the potential to enhance greatly our understanding of henges and the ritual practices associated with them. Excavations of henges often indicate that they are multi-phase monuments, and therefore there is potential for this site to provide information on a long timescale.

Contextual characteristics: Henges and associated circle-henges are found scattered throughout the British Isles, numbering about 100 sites in total, yet have a limited distribution in northern Scotland, with 16 known sites in Highland, of which only eight are currently scheduled. There is much regional diversity in the form, construction, and supposed use of henges. Most Scottish henges are small, like Heatherdean, with the actual enclosure often forming part of a long sequence of use and reuse of the site. The location of this henge is typical, on low-lying flat ground close to watercourses or agricultural land. The entrances are aligned NE to SW, which is a common arrangement for a Class II henge. The site sits in a landscape dominated by later prehistoric enclosures and pit alignments. Evidence suggests that henges are ritual monuments, often with a funerary dimension, but theories vary as to the significance and actual purpose of henges; the arrangement of ditches inside of the bank means that they are not defensive in any way, and it may be that they were designed to stop people from outside viewing whatever went on inside the enclosure, although an alternative explanation may be that the henge is actually defending the outside world against the unknown power of an earlier monument enclosed within it. As standing stones or a ring of posts were often set inside henges, such sites may have served as centres for astronomical observation, or alternatively as meeting places for prominent groups of people.

Associative characteristics: The antiquarian connection between the site of a Flemish Camp and the henge, as given by the OS Second Edition map (among others), is unsubstantiated. However, this does offer an indication that people acknowledged and perceived the area as having been of notable importance in the past. Given that the site is now only visible as a cropmark, it must mean that elements of it were upstanding when the name was coined, and that therefore the levelling of the site has been caused by relatively recent ploughing.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is an excellent example of a Class II henge surviving as a negative (below-ground) feature, visible from the air in the form of a cropmark. It has the potential to enhance very considerably our understanding of many aspects of ceremonial and ritual life in Neolithic Scotland, especially given the very limited distribution of henges within northern Scotland. Its loss would significantly detract from our ability to understand not only prehistoric societies in the N of mainland Scotland, but also across Britain as a whole.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NH85SW 6 and describes it as a possible henge.

The henge is visible on the following aerial photograph: RCAHMS (1976) IN/2654.

References:

Harding A F and Lee G E 1987, HENGE MONUMENTS AND RELATED SITES OF GREAT BRITAIN, Brit Archaeol Rep Brit Ser 175, Oxford, 374, No. 275.

NSA 1845, NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT, INVERNESS-SHIRE, Edinburgh, Vol. 14, 392.

RCAHMS 1979, THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS OF NORTH EAST INVERNESS, The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland Series No. 8, 14, No. 81, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

ORDNANCE SURVEY NAME BOOK, Original name books of the Ordnance Survey, Book No. 55, 24.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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